Former President Trump and other GOP candidates have been criticized for demonizing the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) in order to win over disaffected workers in Michigan. However, experts say that the reality is more nuanced. Sanya Carley, a professor of energy policy at the University of Pennsylvania, stated that there is currently no evidence that EVs are job-killers. While some factories have closed, others have retooled or changed. It is also possible that workers may lose jobs at one factory while gaining jobs at another.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have attacked President Biden’s electric vehicle policies, claiming they will negatively impact autoworkers in Michigan. However, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which is currently on strike, supports the transition to EVs but accuses automakers of using it as an opportunity to pay workers less.
The Biden administration sees EVs as a climate solution and has proposed a rule that aims to make two-thirds of new car sales electric by 2032. They have also passed tax credits for electric vehicle purchases in their climate bill. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that the transition to electric vehicles could eliminate jobs in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio if worker protections are not put in place. However, if policies are implemented to protect jobs, it could actually create 50,000 new jobs in those states.
Some experts predict that the transition to EVs will result in a mixed impact on jobs. Stephanie Valdez-Streaty, Cox Automotive’s strategic planning director, believes that while some jobs may be replaced, new jobs will also be created in battery manufacturing and charging infrastructure. However, it is possible that some EV jobs may move to different parts of the country, specifically to the South, where there is less union presence.
The labor required to produce batteries for EVs means that they currently require more worker hours to manufacture compared to gas-powered cars. However, it is uncertain whether the same jobs will stay in the same places. The location of EV facilities is influenced by factors such as labor concerns, proximity to train lines or ports, and battery manufacturing.
The transition to EVs is not solely driven by domestic policy moves but also by global factors. The European Union has mandated that all new cars sold starting in 2035 must be electric, and China provides significant subsidies for EVs. These international factors have played a significant role in driving the rapid path to electrification in the United States.
Overall, the shift to electric vehicles has the potential to create jobs, but it may not be without challenges for workers. The geographic distribution of new EV facilities and the need for worker protections and domestic battery manufacturing are important considerations in ensuring a successful transition.
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